Wow: Air Senegal Will Fly To New York & Baltimore

Wow: Air Senegal Will Fly To New York & Baltimore

44

Update: In May I wrote about how Air Senegal will be launching flights to the United States. This is an update to note that the airline has last minute decided to fly to Baltimore (BWI) rather than Washington Dulles (IAD). I’ve updated the below post to reflect that.

Earlier this year we learned of Air Senegal’s plans to add flights to the USA, and that’s now officially happening, with flights being on sale. It’s a fascinating and rather strange route as well.

Air Senegal’s new flight to the USA

As of September 2, 2021, Air Senegal plans to introduce a new twice weekly flight to the United States, to both New York (JFK) and Baltimore (BWI). The flight will operate with the following schedule, on Wednesdays and Saturdays in both directions:

HC407 Dakar to New York departing 1:30AM arriving 6:00AM
HC407 New York to Baltimore departing 8:30AM arriving 10:00AM

HC408 Baltimore to New York departing 8:25PM arriving 9:55PM
HC408 New York to Dakar departing 11:55PM arriving 12:25PM (+1 day)

Air Senegal’s new route to the USA

The flight between Dakar and New York covers a distance of 3,830 miles, while the flight between New York and Baltimore covers a distance of 184 miles. The flight between New York and Dakar is blocked at 8hr30min in each direction, while the entire journey between Baltimore and Dakar is blocked at 12hr30min westbound and 12hr eastbound.

Presumably all USA-bound passengers will clear immigration in New York, even if they’re connecting to Baltimore, which would explain the long layover in New York.

Air Senegal will use an Airbus A330-900neo for the route, featuring 290 seats. That includes 32 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 237 economy seats. Air Senegal only recently took delivery of two A330-900neos, and the planes sure do look quite nice.

Air Senegal Airbus A330-900neo economy class

How expensive are tickets?

Fares sure aren’t cheap, especially for a new entrant into the market. Roundtrip fares start at over €1,000 ($1,200+) in economy and at over €2,100 ($2,500+) in business class.

Unfortunately one-way fares aren’t any more affordable, as they’re significantly more than half of a roundtrip fare.

Usually this is where miles would come in handy, though unfortunately Air Senegal doesn’t partner with any other major airline frequent flyer programs, so for most of us the only option is to pay cash.

What is Air Senegal, anyway?

For those of you not familiar with Air Senegal, the airline was technically founded in 2016, as it’s the successor of Senegal Airlines, which ceased operations that year. The airline is growing nicely and with a modern fleet, as it has two A330-900neos, two ATR-72s, and four A320-family aircraft. On top of that, Air Senegal has eight A220s on order.

Air Senegal Airbus A330-900neo

This seems like a rather inefficient route

For some context on service between the USA and Senegal:

  • Delta Air Lines flies between New York and Dakar, so Air Senegal will be competing directly with Delta
  • South African Airways used to fly between Washington and Dakar (as part of its Johannesburg to Washington service), but cut the route in 2019

While New York and Washington (which Baltimore is near) are the two cities in the United States with the biggest Senegalese populations, I can’t help but feel like this route is pretty inefficient for those traveling to & from Washington, and also not terribly competitive in New York:

  • For those flying between Dakar and New York, Delta operates this route up to daily, so Air Senegal can’t compete on frequencies
  • For those connecting to Baltimore, the transit times in New York in both directions are really long
  • I could see some of the demand for this flight coming from connections within West Africa, but for those originating in Washington, you’re looking at some pretty lengthy routings with two stops
  • It seems to me like it would be more efficient for the airline to instead operate a triangle route, flying from Dakar to New York to Baltimore to Dakar (or swap the order), rather than flying via New York in both directions
Delta also flies between New York and Dakar

Air Senegal is government owned, and it’s hard to imagine any universe in which this flight could actually turn a profit. So many government owned airlines want to add service to the United States for prestige, only to quickly realize that this kind of service isn’t nearly as lucrative as they expected.

Personally I don’t see any way this route could be profitable for the airline, so I imagine the survival of this service will come down to how committed the government is to maintaining this link to the United States.

This flight will be operated by a wet leased plane

Note that one of Air Senegal’s two Airbus A330-900neos is technically wet leased, and the airline will have to use that for its service. Why?

  • Senegal doesn’t have a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 safety rating, meaning Senegal-registered aircraft can’t operate flights to the USA
  • As a result, one of Air Senegal’s A330-900neos has the registration code 9H-SZN, so the plane is technically registered in Malta to wet lease operator Hi Fly Malta
  • In other words, even though the plane is in the Air Senegal livery and mostly has an Air Senegal crew, it’s technically registered in Malta and being wet leased by Air Senegal, in order to circumvent these restrictions

Bottom line

Air Senegal seems to be following through with adding service to the United States, with the flight expected to launch next week, in September 2021. The airline will fly twice weekly to Baltimore via New York using an Airbus A330-900neo. Tickets are now on sale.

I’ve been wanting to fly Air Senegal ever since the airline got its new A330s, so this might finally be the chance to do so. Here’s to hoping the flight actually ends up launching, and I sure wouldn’t mind a business class fare sale either. 😉

What do you make of Air Senegal’s new flight to the United States?

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  1. iamhere

    Often times return tickets are cheaper than one way tickets, so that is not surprising. There may be other reasons for having the flight such as officials or senior people not being able to fly a foreign carrier. And I am surprised that you find a couple of thousand dollars for business class expensive these days. Seems you haven't checked flights for other destinations recently.

  2. Amadu

    Do think this flight will be safe to travel

  3. FMLAX

    I actually think BWI is a great move, wayyy less traffic getting to BWI from DC, Montgomery County, PG County, Arlington, etc than getting to IAD. Plus you can take the dang MARC or Amtrak train from DC Union Station to BWI, something you *still can't do* to IAD after decades.

    1. AL

      I think it’s clear from this thread that we all have our own opinions on which DMV area airports are convenient, haha. While there is no direct train to IAD, you can still take the Washington Flyer bus from one of the metro stops which I’ve easily done on multiple occasions coming from Montgomery County…also that’ll change whenever the direct metro line to IAD is completed (which the construction of is taking forever naturally). I...

      I think it’s clear from this thread that we all have our own opinions on which DMV area airports are convenient, haha. While there is no direct train to IAD, you can still take the Washington Flyer bus from one of the metro stops which I’ve easily done on multiple occasions coming from Montgomery County…also that’ll change whenever the direct metro line to IAD is completed (which the construction of is taking forever naturally). I also still think DC residents would prefer IAD over BWI given the shorter distance and metro accessible option via bus noted above, but I could be wrong!

    2. AL

      By Washington Flyer bus, I meant “the Silver Line Express Bus, which provides a convenient, economical connection between Dulles' Terminal and the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station on Metrotrail's Silver Line” lol

  4. Alpha Golf

    North American Airlines flew BWI-JFK and on to ACC and LOS. They sold the domestic portion, which I flew once. Even got a nice sandwich. As I was deplaning at JFK, F/A said you’re lucky you’re getting off here.

  5. Jim

    They should have it enter the US at BWI and continue to JFK. The reason is BWI has so few international arrivals, so immigration and customs is super-fast. I was on Condor's FRA-BWI flight a few years ago, and it looks like BWI even called up airport office staff to help direct passengers through immigration lines. We made it from wheels-down to grabbing the airport shuttle to the parking lot in 35 minutes!

  6. Bill

    For those of us living in Maryland & DC BWI offers a much better departure point than IAD. For all of my international flights it’s simply easier to drive to PHL than IAD and traffic is much more predictable with alternate routes, unlike IAD which requires me to play Russian roulette by picking one of the only 2 Beltway bridges linking DC/MD and IAD. Not worth the risk IMHO.

    1. AL

      Bill, I don't think thats accurate...many people who live in MD (ex. Montgomery County) or DC would prefer to fly from IAD or DCA, rather than BWI (unless you're a Southwest loyalist). BWI is a solid 10+ miles farther for me and only offers a handful of international flights...even for domestic flights, I'd still choose to fly from IAD or DCA.

  7. YFFB

    "While New York and Washington (which Baltimore is near)..." It's a little known fact that BWI is actually the same distance from DC as IAD. I love to take Amtrak from Capitol Hll to BWI--the BWI station is on airport property.

  8. GUWonder

    The DC, NYC and Houston areas are home to significant West African immigrant communities, so there is VFR traffic.

    I like Senegalese food and have a long affinity for francophone countries, so I look forward to this service for those reasons and more. I just hope it turns out to be a sustainable service.

  9. Claus Biking Viking

    Senegal has a lot of tourism potential. Both in terms of nature and fantastic beaches, as well as history. If they market this route right, then this could become a popular holiday route for the many African Americans that you have living on the east coast, who want to travel back to the roots, while still having great resort hotels to stay in.

  10. Stuart

    This is really absurd. The biggest competition is from Royal Air Maroc which has great daily service out of IAD with an easy transfer in CMN to Dakar. And they are One World.

    1. pstm91

      You are viewing this as a highly educated, frequent flier. 99% of the population could not care less that they are One World. They look at pricing, flight time, and that's it.

  11. Russell

    It's great to see more airlines going transatlantic. But, operationally, this tag-on leg will be problematic in winter. When bad weather hits NYC, and ground stops are implemented on the short legs into JFK, this flight will be stuck in DC awaiting approval and hence causing a big delay out of NYC for Senegal.

    Also, I would love to hear how they plan to crew this flight: does 1 crew op Wed DSS-JFK, then do...

    It's great to see more airlines going transatlantic. But, operationally, this tag-on leg will be problematic in winter. When bad weather hits NYC, and ground stops are implemented on the short legs into JFK, this flight will be stuck in DC awaiting approval and hence causing a big delay out of NYC for Senegal.

    Also, I would love to hear how they plan to crew this flight: does 1 crew op Wed DSS-JFK, then do the long day turn to IAD on Sat, then work the flight back to Senegal on the following Wed night? Or, do the same crew do both legs inbound, and then return on both legs the following date? I would hope the crew are not too tired after doing a red-eye into JFK and then having to endure a delayed onward leg to Dulles.

  12. wow

    HC407 New York to Washington departing 8:30AM arriving 10:00AM it should be +1 day or not?

  13. John

    Andrew - re the Government of Senegal is doing what TACV and Icelandair have not achieved by focusing on two routes JFK where there is Diaspora and IAD where there is lot of Diplomatic Representation with diplomats and their families. The missing point where there is lot of Senegalese or West African Diaspora will be Montreal but the market is less important. There is indeed a potential to develop a big hub in Dakar even...

    Andrew - re the Government of Senegal is doing what TACV and Icelandair have not achieved by focusing on two routes JFK where there is Diaspora and IAD where there is lot of Diplomatic Representation with diplomats and their families. The missing point where there is lot of Senegalese or West African Diaspora will be Montreal but the market is less important. There is indeed a potential to develop a big hub in Dakar even though there is not the oil business like in ACC. This move is also important as Ethiopian Airlines could become ultra dominant otherwise.
    Regarding cargo there is not only perishables due to FDA Administration regulations, there are other items such as clothing, home furniture and exports from the US to Africa via Dakar. The anciliaries for excess luggage itself can generate 10,000 USD per leg which is around 20,000 for the return flight. Point of Sales for this route will be in Senegal for sure, but a good volume of sales is expected from France, USA and even Canada.

  14. Andrew

    John - re "bankable" destinations, good points. However, Delta could be gobbling up a lot of West African traffic from Conakry, Nouakchott, Bamako, Niamey, Ouagadougou, and even Abidjan since none of these capitals has nonstop flights to the US. Presently, it is exceedingly difficult, from what I've heard, for West Africans to go to the US via Paris on AF - but i haven't seen any effort by DL to capture this market (by working...

    John - re "bankable" destinations, good points. However, Delta could be gobbling up a lot of West African traffic from Conakry, Nouakchott, Bamako, Niamey, Ouagadougou, and even Abidjan since none of these capitals has nonstop flights to the US. Presently, it is exceedingly difficult, from what I've heard, for West Africans to go to the US via Paris on AF - but i haven't seen any effort by DL to capture this market (by working out connecting flights with regional carriers like Air Senegal, Asky or Air Cote d'Ivoire). Re cargo, very little from Senegal. Any fresh food to the US is a challenge due to import regs, and not much else is exportable at the moment (except Senegalese hair extensions). don't think Air Senegal would have much cargo demand I'm afraid.

  15. John

    Paris - New York - Washington - Montreal - Beirut - Dubai - Guanzhou are "bankable" routes from Dakar, especially that there are arrival and departure "banks" from african points beyond Dakar.
    Senegalese Diaspora in the US already contributes 100 Million USD per year to the local economy in Senegal. There will be lots of cargo potential that will help Little Senegal in New York get easy and fast access to perishables like fish,...

    Paris - New York - Washington - Montreal - Beirut - Dubai - Guanzhou are "bankable" routes from Dakar, especially that there are arrival and departure "banks" from african points beyond Dakar.
    Senegalese Diaspora in the US already contributes 100 Million USD per year to the local economy in Senegal. There will be lots of cargo potential that will help Little Senegal in New York get easy and fast access to perishables like fish, vegetables, fruits, etc...
    If there is no cargo an A321LR with more frequencies could be better.

  16. Eva C.

    This is a great start and not any debut is easy. Just need to keep it consistent and efficient.

  17. Anna Ba

    This is a great new. But the route is not the best actually with the change of Delta's schedule. Suggestions

    Dkr/IAD/ATL would be a good route, Also Dkr/Acc/Dca or Iad.
    Any other major airports than JFK would work.

  18. cedric

    In the late 80's Air France had a flight CDG-JFK-IAD and returning IAD-JFK-CDG.
    It was operated by a 747 and one could purchase a ticket CDG - IAD. I remember about 90% got off in New York, but those of us continuing on to Washington did NOT clear US Customs & Immigration in JFK. We would continue on to Washington. No other passengers were allowed on the flight.

  19. Andrew

    The choice of JFK makes no sense despite the large Senegalese population there. Delta used to fly a 757 twice/wk for years and suddenly flies a wide-bodied daily. How can Air Sen compete with this? Worse, Delta's fares are low - I'm going DC-JFK-Dakar in a few weeks RT for $1,000 - in premium economy!!! Granted fares will increase but where's the value added? They should have followed Delta's method of covering two US cities:...

    The choice of JFK makes no sense despite the large Senegalese population there. Delta used to fly a 757 twice/wk for years and suddenly flies a wide-bodied daily. How can Air Sen compete with this? Worse, Delta's fares are low - I'm going DC-JFK-Dakar in a few weeks RT for $1,000 - in premium economy!!! Granted fares will increase but where's the value added? They should have followed Delta's method of covering two US cities: fly ACC-JFK for half the weekly flights and ACC-ATL for the other. Although I haven't researched this, I believe ATL has a larger Senegalese population than DC - or close, so ATL would have been a better choice - picking up connecting traffic from the West and South.

  20. aviationwiz

    @ ChurnieEls - the stopover was in DKR, for pax originating in DKR or only traveling to DKR from IAD, it was nonstop.

  21. Peter Brown

    PATHETIC!!! What a bizarre routing and timing. Just another African airline that has no idea what it is doing with lousy service. UGH!!!

  22. Mark Fischer

    2,5h and 2h in New York are a long connecting times? Especially when you need clear immigration and customs. What I didnot get?

  23. stogieguy7

    Totally agree on the inefficiency of such a routing, at least as far as the Washington portion of the route is concerned. It's not 1970, so people do not have the patience to wait around for various stops - not to mention the hassle that will undoubtedly occur when everyone has to clear customs and immigration at JFK on the inbound (that's inevitable). That's not a selling point for flying from Dakar to DC.

    ...

    Totally agree on the inefficiency of such a routing, at least as far as the Washington portion of the route is concerned. It's not 1970, so people do not have the patience to wait around for various stops - not to mention the hassle that will undoubtedly occur when everyone has to clear customs and immigration at JFK on the inbound (that's inevitable). That's not a selling point for flying from Dakar to DC.

    I think they have the right idea, but the wrong execution. A triangle routing would be more efficient, but again some pax would be the losers depending on the leg/direction. To me, more efficient would be to go all in and utilize the aircraft full time, going to/from JFK on some days and IAD on others.

  24. CAROLYNNE

    Senegal should have used the money to improve it's infrastructure.

  25. Kingfish

    How are departure and arrival times determined? A 01:30 A.M. departure and 06:00 A.M. arrival feels wildly inconvenient on both sides.

    1. Senegal Ease

      On the contrary, this is a great schedule. Enjoy a full day of work or play in Dakar, have a nice dinner at Le Lagon, head to the airport, get a full night's sleep inflight on a flat bed, arrive at JFK when there are hardly any other international flights arriving, sail through Immigration. Delta's schedule is similar.

  26. Mike C

    @Paul: 'I’d assume this is very similar to Qantas’ Australia to LAX to JFK – does anyone know if passengers on that flight clear immigration in LAX or JFK?'
    Passengers clear immigration at LAX. QF used a BNE origin aircraft for that leg of what is nominally a SYD-LAX-JFK service, and the onward flight consolidates pax from BNE, SYD and MEL.

    @Motion to Dismiss: 'Correct me if I’m wrong, my memory is that Qantas...

    @Paul: 'I’d assume this is very similar to Qantas’ Australia to LAX to JFK – does anyone know if passengers on that flight clear immigration in LAX or JFK?'
    Passengers clear immigration at LAX. QF used a BNE origin aircraft for that leg of what is nominally a SYD-LAX-JFK service, and the onward flight consolidates pax from BNE, SYD and MEL.

    @Motion to Dismiss: 'Correct me if I’m wrong, my memory is that Qantas was not allowed to separately sell LAX-JFK?'
    Correct, although they can sell tickets from Australia that have a stopover in LA before continuing to New York.

  27. Motion to Dismiss

    Very cool, I hope this happens! I hope they get the rights to sell JFK-IAD, though I doubt that will happen.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, my memory is that Qantas was not allowed to separately sell LAX-JFK?

  28. Sean M.

    @smallmj - Montreal is the third largest North American origin point for Dakar, behind New York and Washington. The traffic primarily flows over Casablanca or Paris.

  29. smallmj

    I've wondered for a while about the viability of a YUL-DSS (previously DKR) route. The language connections might make for a good fit. If air travels really grows in a post-pandemic world...... maybe?

    But mostly I want easier an connection to visit my sister. When I took my family of 5 to Senegal in 2016 I saved several thousand dollars by flying YHZ-YYZ-CDG-DKR. It was an exhausting journey -- over well 24 hours in each...

    I've wondered for a while about the viability of a YUL-DSS (previously DKR) route. The language connections might make for a good fit. If air travels really grows in a post-pandemic world...... maybe?

    But mostly I want easier an connection to visit my sister. When I took my family of 5 to Senegal in 2016 I saved several thousand dollars by flying YHZ-YYZ-CDG-DKR. It was an exhausting journey -- over well 24 hours in each direction. I could have saved time going through NYC but that involved changing airports and terrible pricing. If Air Senegal came to Montreal and partnered with Westjet or Air Canada for connecting flights then another trip would be much easier - if it were priced competitively.

  30. ChurnieEls

    South African's route was a stopover too, which you've conveniently excluded.

  31. Euro

    Perhaps a better idea would have been to switch the order in which the US destinations are served to promote direct to IAD.

    Also have been hearing that they want to partner with a US airline for this route. I would think these smaller African airlines would want to partner with an established major US or European airline for such long-distance routes to make them viable...

  32. AndrewM

    They need to clear custom and immigration at the first US entry point which is JFK then fly domestic between JFK - IAD. That is why it is taking too long to connect at JFK.
    Off load luggage and then reload luggage to IAD.
    I agree with Ben’s suggestion of flying triangle between these three cities.
    Else, the long wait at JFK will be the killer for this flight.

  33. Paul

    Any possibility that the long connection times in JFK are to allow passengers to clear immigration? Or would they be allowed to operate JFK to IAD as technically an international flight?
    I'd assume this is very similar to Qantas' Australia to LAX to JFK - does anyone know if passengers on that flight clear immigration in LAX or JFK?

    1. Brandon Rabb

      you clear at lax, qantas staff at LAX wanted to have travelers go right through to JFk to clear customs but immigration said it was "TOO DANGEROUS". lol

  34. Chase

    Sounds like a great way to light money on fire

  35. Quo Vadis?

    "Would be pretty cool to fly Air Senegal between JFK and IAD…"

    Assuming they let passengers off the plane in JFK to stretch their legs, there's always throwaway ticketing (with carry-on bags only), LOL :-)

  36. Steven E

    It’s a NO from me - As soon as there’s even a mention of the word not allowed to fly to the U S A for safety reasons

  37. bill

    Would be pretty cool to fly Air Senegal between JFK and IAD...

  38. Hammer

    In terms of West Africa connections from IAD, you would still be better off flying into ADD or BRU (and maybe even ACC if United ends up codesharing with an airline there).

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iamhere

Often times return tickets are cheaper than one way tickets, so that is not surprising. There may be other reasons for having the flight such as officials or senior people not being able to fly a foreign carrier. And I am surprised that you find a couple of thousand dollars for business class expensive these days. Seems you haven't checked flights for other destinations recently.

Senegal Ease

On the contrary, this is a great schedule. Enjoy a full day of work or play in Dakar, have a nice dinner at Le Lagon, head to the airport, get a full night's sleep inflight on a flat bed, arrive at JFK when there are hardly any other international flights arriving, sail through Immigration. Delta's schedule is similar.

AL

By Washington Flyer bus, I meant “the Silver Line Express Bus, which provides a convenient, economical connection between Dulles' Terminal and the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station on Metrotrail's Silver Line” lol

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